VH1 Music

Cover Me: 20 Famous Songs You Had No Idea Were Covers

Songs You Never Knew Were Covers

We’ve all been there. We take a song and love it as our very own. We believe that it came straight from the mind of our favorite artist, expressing their innermost emotions and views. Every note, every chord progression, every lyric is born from their talent. And then comes the fateful day that we learn that the track you adore is actually that most forlorn of musical objects. Yes, that song is…just a cover version.

At first it almost feels like a betrayal. Our favorite rock star lied to us! What are they doing trying to pass off someone else’s tune as if it’s their own? How dare they!? They’re just copying! Don’t they have their own stuff to say!? But after that initial mind-blowing shock wears off, you start to see the upside: There’s a totally different (and often totally unique) version of a song that you already love. And that’s pretty cool. It’s like learning that your best friend has a twin! Kind of.

This happens more often than you’d think. Don’t believe us? Well we’d like to share with you 20 beloved songs that we had no ideas were covers! Some are wayyy better than the famous version, and other times not so much, but they’re always unexpected. Read (and listen) onward!

20. You Know It As: “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Conner 

But It’s Actually…

A lot of folks know that Prince wrote this one, but most don’t realize it was recorded prior to Sinead by his side project, The Family in 1985. The killer sax solo makes it totally worth it.


19. You Know It As: “Dazed And Confused” by Led Zeppelin 

But It’s Actually…

A folky freakout song by Jake Holmes! He was opening for the Yardbirds in 1967 when their guitarist Jimmy Page heard the number…and filed it away in his mental Rolodex. It came in handy when he formed Led Zep a year later. Holmes name appears nowhere on the original record, leading to lots of copyright feuds.


18. You Know It As: “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

But It’s Actually…

This song always sounded SO fiercely ’80’s that it kind of blew our minds when we learned that it was an old soul song by Gloria Jones from May 1965.


17. You Know It As: “It’s My Life” by No Doubt

But It’s Actually…

…a fine piece of  new-wave synthpop by British band Talk Talk from 1984. Seems so obvious now, doesn’t it!?


16. You Know It As: “Whatta Man” by Salt-n-Pepa

But It’s Actually…

Linda Lyndell delivered this Volt Records masterpiece in 1968, a good 25 years before it was sampled by S ‘n’ P. That’s a hell of a lot of funk for a 20-year-old white girl!